Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century – Preview

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Left to Right: Anne Perry, Paulette Parker

I completed Peter Graham’s Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century two days ago and still need to finish compiling my thoughts into something resembling a coherent review of the book, but I can’t get it out of my mind.  Graham’s book was published first in New Zealand and Australia back in 2011 but has, I think, been available in North America since 2013.

This true crime book gives a comprehensive account of the gruesome 1954 murder of a woman by her daughter (Paulette Parker) and the daughter’s best friend (Juliette Hulme – who later changed her name to Anne Perry).  I have been intrigued by Anne Perry’s criminal past for a number of years and have accumulated a good bit of knowledge and information concerning the bloody murder she encouraged her “friend” to commit.  In fact, as it turned out, Paulette was physically incapable of committing the crime herself, and if Juliette/Anne had not been there to hold the older woman down by her throat, the murder may not have been accomplished at all.

I highly recommend Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century to those still searching for answers as to why/how the murder happened and what became of the two killers (other than Perry becoming a world famous author of bloody murder mysteries) after their release from the New Zealand prison system.  It is excellent.

Part of my prior research into the crime, of course, led me to the 1994 New Zealand movie directed by Peter Jackson and starring Kate Winslet as Juliette Hulme (Anne Perry).

Heavenly Creatures Movie Trailer

The trailer, although it hints at the murder in a misleading way, does do a good job of showing the state of mind the two girls were in during the time period in which it occurred. The murder scene in the movie is difficult to watch, so I can understand why it is not included in this movie preview.

I plan to have a full review of Anne Perry and the Murder of the Century ready to go in a week or so.

Texas Book Festival Pictures and Sessions – Part II

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From left to right: Jennifer Haigh, Amanda Eyre Ward (moderator), and Virginia Reeves

My second stop at the book festival on Saturday morning was at a session titled “Power Lines” featuring authors Jennifer Haigh (Heat and Light) and Virginia Reeves (Work Like Any Other).  I read Work Like Any Other a few weeks ago but knew very little about Haigh’s novel before the session began.

The session was titled “Power Lines” because both books have themes relating to energy.  The Virginia Reeves novel is about a man who decides to electrify his rural Alabama farm by illegally tapping in to the newfangled power lines that the state has erected near his property.  When a lineman is electrocuted after discovering the tie-in, the farmer and the man who helped him with the work both go to prison.  This is one of my favorite books of 2016 and it was a treat to hear Reeves talk about it.

The Jennifer Haigh novel is about horizontal drilling and fracking for natural gas in Pennsylvania and how that innovative process affects several different groups: landowners, oil companies, environmentalists, etc. and seems to be told from the points-of-view of each of the different groups. I snagged an autographed copy of Heat and Light later in the afternoon, and I’m looking forward to the day it works its way to the top of my TBR heap – hopefully that will be sometime in early December.

I always bring a little digital voice recorder with me to these sessions but seldom remember to turn the darn thing on.  I remembered this time, but started a couple of minutes late and then it happened: the batteries died on me about five minutes before the session ended. Sometimes I think I’m jinxed.  I haven’t listened to the recording yet to see how it turned out but I’m not optimistic that it is usable because Ms. Reeves decided to go without a microphone and used her “middle schoolteacher” voice instead.  We’ll see how that worked out…

Texas Book Festival Pictures & Sessions – Part I

It’s been overcast in Austin since yesterday morning, and we got a little light rain around eleven this morning, but I managed to stay relatively dry during my walk from the Central Presbyterian Church back to the capitol building (a walk of something like a quarter of a mile).  I stayed with my planned schedule for the most part, but the overlaps soon started to catch up with me and I ended up improvising a little by the time the third group of sessions was beginning.

I started the day in Central Presbyterian for a presentation by Tracy Chee, Michael Eric Dyson, Meg Medina, Susan Faludi, and Joe McGinnis Jr.

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Left to right: McGinnis, Faludi, Medina, Dyson, and Chee

Of the five books presented by this group, I’ve only read Susan Faludi’s In the Darkroom, a frank memoir about learning from her father, whom she had barely spoken to in the past twenty-five years, that he had undergone gender-change surgery and was now legally a female.

Traci Chee is an author of speculative fiction for teens and she discussed The Reader, the first book in a new five-book series that she is writing about a bunch of cowboy pirates.

Michael Eric Dyson has known Barack Obama since the early nineties and talked about his latest book, The Black Presidency, a book he says that the Obama people are not particularly happy about because it includes a discussion of the several ways that the President has let down the black voters who supported him so strongly in two elections.

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Left to right: McGinnis, Faludi, and Medina

Meg Medina’s novel, Burn Baby Burn focuses on what it was like to live in New York City in 1977 during the Son of Sam’s reign of terror.  Her 17-year-old heroine fits comfortably into the serial killer’s target-group but has so many family problems going on that getting murdered by a maniac is just another potential problem on her list.

Joe McGinnis Jr. is the son of bestselling author Joe McGinnis who is probably best remembered for true-crime books such as Blind Faith and Fatal Vision (the senior McGinnis died in 2014).  McGinnis discussed his Carousel Court, a novel that explores the financial devastation of one California couple by the recent housing crash.

This first session was the perfect way to start off the day.  There was a lot of laughter (particularly during the Dyson and Medina presentations) and a lot of serious discussion about some the issues of the day.  And I got a bonus author in the person of Mr. Dyson who seems to have been a late addition to the original lineup.

On Prepping for the 2016 Texas Book Festival

tbf-2016-posterThe 2016 Texas Book Festival will be history this time next week, and I’m not at all prepared for it yet. I usually spend at least a couple of hours ahead of time preparing two separate schedules: a first-choice schedule that I will follow if everything breaks perfectly for me and a backup schedule that I can jump in and out of if sessions go longer than expected or any back-to-back sessions on the first schedule prove to be too far apart to allow me to make both of them.

As of this moment, I’ve got part of next Saturday mapped out and haven’t even looked at the Sunday sessions to see what’s on offer for the second day of the festival. I’m a little concerned that (based on what I’ve noticed about Saturday) there may be fewer outdoor sessions this year than in years past. That’s only important because it is easier to rush from one presentation tent to the next than it is to get indoors from outdoors. The indoor sessions are held inside the Texas Capitol building itself and the lines to get through all the associated security can be a little long – and timing is everything at the Texas Book Festival because no matter how many authors you see, you miss ten times that many. So many authors, so many books, so little time…can be exhausting.

Saturday is looking pretty good, though, as I’m finding that several of the authors I’ve already read in 2016 will be presenting. It appears that, with a little luck, I’ll be able to see Susan Faludi (In the Darkroom), Ottessa Moshfegh (Eileen), Virginia Reeves (Work Like Any Other), Diane Guerrero (In the Country We Love: My Family Divided), and Skip Hollandsworth (The Midnight Assassin). And that’s just from what I’ve seen of Saturday, so I’m hoping that more will turn up as I make my way through the rest of the schedule. I’ve also spotted sessions dedicated to short story writers, Kirkus Prize Finalists, the O. Henry Prize, and Tracking Terrorism, so Saturday is going to be a very full day.

Now I need to study the rest of the Saturday schedule, the Sunday schedule, and start thinking about a hotel. Last year, like every year, I drove to Austin on Friday without having located a room and ended up staying 50 miles north of the festival in a little Texas town I’d never heard of. It worked out well enough, but my house is only 150 miles from Austin, so it seemed a little crazy to drive another 200 miles over the two days I was there.

The James Patterson Money Machine on Display at B&N

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Book Display Spotted on October 8, 2016 in Houston B&N Bookstore

This is an actual display in the Best Sellers section of the Barnes & Noble bookstore nearest me.  I expect that one similar to it can be found in other B&Ns, maybe even all of the B&N bookstores for all I know. So what makes it special, you ask?  Well, every single book on the display was “written” by one James Patterson – or at least that’s what the various covers say.  But with one or two exceptions, one being the throwback copy of Along Came a Spider, I doubt that Patterson did a whole lot of writing on these.

Somehow or another James Patterson has become a brand name, and now Mr. Patterson can just slap his name on a book cover in big, bright letters and leave the actual writing of the book to the author whose name appears in smaller, less colorful letters below the huge “James Patterson” logo.  And, of course, the authors willing to play the Patterson Brand Game are lined up down the block because being tapped on the shoulder this way by James Patterson means they are likely to sell more books with even one Patterson brand book than they ever would have sold by writing half a dozen non-Patterson brand books.  Ka-ching!

A couple of Patterson brand books a year would be one thing, but more than a dozen of them a year is just humiliating, in my worthless opinion, to the image of the authors who do Mr. Patterson’s grunt work for what is likely to be the smallest slice of the two-piece pie they produce for him.

…just saying.

A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life

cover94691-mediumWhen Pat Conroy died on March 4, 2016, America lost one of her most beloved writers. Conroy’s loss will almost certainly be felt strongest in his native South where he set the standard for Southern writers for the past several decades, but Pat Conroy fans all around the world were equally caught by surprise at how quickly his death followed the announcement that he was beginning treatment for pancreatic cancer.

A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life, a compilation of past blog entries, essays, speeches, and interviews of Conroy’s is the author’s official farewell to his fans – and it is an effective one. Despite how unlikely it is, over time readers often come to believe that their favorite writers would be their friends if only they ever managed to meet them; they feel as if they know them that well from their writing. Pat Conroy fans seem almost universally to have felt that way about him, and as several of the blog entries included in A Lowcountry Heart will make clear, they just may have been right because Conroy as much looked forward to meeting them as they did to meeting him. He was one of those rare authors who actually look forward to the next book promotion tour, and he often blogged about the people he met along the way and how much he enjoyed the experience.

As Conroy put it in an early 2014 blog entry, “It (book tours) is part of the covenant I sign with Doubleday that I’ll do everything possible to help the sell the book, including not getting drunk on tour or embarrassing my publishing company with my cutting-up on the road. I go out to sell books and it has become one of the greatest things about being a writer during my lifetime. No writer should turn down the chance of meeting the readers of his work.”

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Pat Conroy

Pat Conroy was not one ever to forget his friends or the teachers who influenced his life in some positive way. He was loyal to the end, and his friends knew that he would always be there for them. This was especially true for his old school friends and for a handful of schoolteachers who, in the end, became some of the dearest friends he had. Two of those friends, Bernie Schein and Rick Bragg say their goodbyes to Conroy here in separate pieces, Schein’s “Farewell Letter” and a reprint of Bragg’s Southern Living article titled “The Great Conroy: An Homage to a Southern Literary Giant and a Prince of a Guy.” Both pieces are beautifully done.

A Lowcountry Heart represents Pat Conroy well, presenting him in all his frank vulnerability and willingness to share with the rest of us his pain and what life has taught him. Conroy knew that he was in a race against the clock to finish his last novel, but sadly was unable to complete the book before his time ran out. According to editor Nan A. Talese, she has less than two hundred pages of The Storms of Aquarius in her possession – but the search among his journals for more on the new novel continues. Perhaps someday, Pat Conroy fans will receive one final gift from their storytelling friend. We can only hope so.

Truman Capote’s Ashes Sell to Highest Bidder

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Ashes for Sale

I think I can probably assume that anyone reading a “book blog” has a keen interest in the world of books and publishing.  I know, too, that some of us feel that passion so strongly that we sometimes do some things that appear a bit on the strange side to nonreaders.  But would you spend a whole bunch of money to buy the ashes of your favorite author…or those of some world class author?

That, believe it or not, is what someone has done this week according to The Guardian:

“The ashes of In Cold Blood and Breakfast at Tiffany’s author Truman Capote have been sold at auction in Los Angeles for $43,750 (£33,800).

Kept in a carved Japanese wooden box, the ashes belonged to the late Joanne Carson, wife of the former Tonight Show host Johnny Carson. According to vendor Julien’s Auctions, Carson, who died last year, said that owning the ashes “brought her great comfort”. She and Capote were good friends, and the celebrated writer died of liver disease at her mansion in Bel-Air in 1984, at the age of 59.”

[…]

“Along with his ashes, the clothes Capote was wearing at the time of his death were sold for $6,400 and two lots of his prescription pill bottles went for a combined $9,280.”

It is easy to imagine that  Truman Capote would have believed this whole thing to be quite a hoot, but I don’t think I’d personally much enjoy having Truman sit on one of my bookshelves next to my copy of In Cold Blood.  How about you?  If not Truman, is there someone else you would consider if the opportunity arose?

James Patterson Decides Not to Murder Stephen King in Print

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James Patterson

This has to be the most bizarre news story out of the publishing world in a while.  It seems that “He Who Seldom Writes His Own Books” (aka James Patterson) canceled publication of a novel for this November about a stalker who is determined to kill Stephen King – supposedly, because he doesn’t want to cause King “any discomfort.”

Well, isn’t that special?  Patterson finally wised up to the world in which all of us live, one in which there are nuts on every street corner just looking for an excuse to kill a crowd of people…or maybe they would settle for one famous name – especially if someone like Patterson thought it might be cute to prepare the blueprint beforehand?  I guess this is a case of “better late than never,” but that this project even got this far before being put in the trash where it belongs, is both astonishing and crass.

From the sound of an article in The Guardian on Friday, Patterson is not the most remorseful guy in the world, and is using the whole incident as an opportunity to publicize the book that will “replace” his misstep in the publication schedule:

But on Thursday, less than two weeks after the novel was announced, Patterson announced its cancellation. He added that the decision was taken after the publicity that followed the announcement of The Murder of Stephen King, when he was alerted to the fact that “fans of Stephen King have disrupted the King household in the past”.

“My book is a positive portrayal of a fictional character, and – spoiler alert – the main character is not actually murdered,” he said in a statement from his publisher. “Nevertheless, I do not want to cause Stephen King or his family any discomfort. Out of respect for them, I have decided not to publish The Murder of Stephen King.”

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Stephen King

How can anyone in the business not have heard of Stephen King’s problems with fans in the past and just now be hearing of it?

The article reminds readers that King is not exactly a fan of Patterson’s writing, as he has stated in the past, although Patterson downplays King’s criticism as “hyperbole.”  All of this silliness makes me wonder if King and his family pressured Patterson and publisher to dump the book, because it is hard to imagine that King has not been aware of it for a while now, or that he would sit back and do nothing to influence its ultimate fate.

Come to think of it, King should write a book about this mess.

Writer Rescues Only Copy of “Life’s Work” from Burning Building

laptop-cleaning-opening-tips-2Hang on a minute, here.

While I understand the emotion that caused writer Gideon Hodge to rush back into his burning home in order to save his “life’s work,” I can’t even begin to comprehend why the only copy of all of that work was being kept on a single, unprotected laptop computer.  Has this guy never had, or even heard of, a hard drive failure in the past?  If not, he’s one of the luckiest laptop computer users I’ve ever heard of.

According to The New Orleans Advocate, the 35-year-old Hodge got a call that his building was on fire and managed to rush back just in time to rescue his computer from the flames and water:

“Clad in a T-shirt that said #photobomb next to an illustration of the Joker photobombing Batman and Robin, Hodge dashed into the building. He ran past the smoke and the firefighters yelling at him to stop and managed to grab the precious laptop.

“Anybody that’s ever created art, there’s no replacing that,” Hodge said. “It’s got pretty much my life’s work.”

Hodge said he did not hesitate before running in. “Despite my better sense, I just ran inside and grabbed it,” he said. “I didn’t think to be scared.”

The computer was intact, Hodge said, sheltered from the deluge of water by a table. The charger was a loss.”

The big question, though, remains: Why has no one explained the concept of offsite data storage to this man?  Heck, a thumb drive would do the trick for two novels.

U.K. Issues Set of Six Mysterious Stamps to Celebrate Agatha Christie’s 126th Birthday

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I have some good news this morning for collectors of commemorative stamps featuring authors and books.  The U.K. is celebrating the 126th birthday of Agatha Christie by issuing a set of six very special stamps.  Each of the stamps features one of Christie’s books and cleverly includes a clue or two to help solve the book’s central mystery.  The stamps were issued yesterday (September 15) and collectors can purchase them directly from the Royal Mail.

According to The Guardian:

“The six stamps are devoted to classic Christie mysteries, including her debut The Mysterious Affair at Styles, which Christie began writing 100 years ago at the age of 26, and another Hercule Poirot mystery, Murder on the Orient Express – appropriately enough a first class stamp. Each design includes microtext, UV ink and thermochromic ink. These concealed clues can be revealed using either a magnifying glass, UV light or body heat and and provide pointers to the mysteries’ solutions.”

I love the idea of interactive stamps offering mystery clues, and can only imagine how thrilled Agatha Christie would be at such a clever spin on the stamps honoring her work.

Click on the Guardian link up above for more detail about the stamps and for a look at the other two stamps in the series.

Was Emily Brontë Autistic?

published by The Medici Society Ltd, after Patrick Branwell BrontÎ, collotype printed in colours, 1914 (1833)

Emily Brontë (National Portrait Gallery, London)

Did Emily Brontë suffer from Asperger’s?  Does autism explain the eccentric character traits of hers that have been reported by biographers over the years, most recently by Claire Harmon in her new Brontë biography Charlotte Brontë: A Life?  Sian Cain studies the question in his August 29 piece in The Guardian:  

“At an event at the Edinburgh international book festival, Harman, author of the recent biography Charlotte Brontë: A Life, said several of Emily’s character traits, including her genius, her dislike of leaving home, her discomfort in social situations and her sudden bursts of anger and frustration could have been symptoms of Asperger’s.”

[…]

It is actually very disturbing. I think Charlotte and everybody was quite frightened of Emily. I think she was an Asperger’s-ey person,” Harman said. “She was such a genius and had total imaginative freedom … Containing Emily, protecting Emily, not being alarmed by Emily, was a big project for the whole household. She’s an absolutely fascinating person – a very troubling presence, though.”

Even more than reclusive Charlotte, Emily hated leaving home, Harman said, which was why they hoped, for a while, to start a school from their home at Haworth, West Yorkshire.”

One theory is that Patrick Brontë, Emily’s father, suffered the same symptoms and passed them on to his strikingly unusual children.

As Cain points out in this Guardian article, Emily’s 200th birthday is coming in 2018, an event that will almost certainly lead to new biographies and research being published, so this could all get even more interesting soon.

(Please do click on the original newspaper article using the link from up above or by just Click Here.)

Top 15 Read/Collected Authors on LibraryThing

Do you guys use LibraryThing?

340x_mixedbag72310_01LibraryThing was the first of the big online book sites that I discovered, and I was almost immediately hooked on it because of how easy it made it for me to keep up with my personal library.  And I’m pretty loyal to the site to this day, preferring it over GoodReads (which I do use) and newer sites that I don’t much fool with.  Every few years I remember that the site does some terrific data-mining, too, and that always generates an interesting list or two for Book Chase.

Here’s a list of the most collected authors on LibraryThing:

  1. J.K. Rowling (538,736 books)
  2. Stephen King (439,451)
  3. Terry Pratchett (357,175)
  4. J.R.R. Tolkien (277,606)
  5. C.S. Lewis (262,454)
  6. Neil Gaiman (239,419)
  7. William Shakespeare (230,089)
  8. Nora Roberts (228,413)
  9. Agatha Christie (210,102)
  10. James Patterson (191,880)
  11. Jane Austen (177,294)
  12. Isaac Asimov (170,736)
  13. Stephenie Myer (166,507)
  14. Charles Dickens (166,114)
  15. John Grisham (154,814)

I normally stop with Top 10 lists, but there was no way I was going to end my list with James Patterson’s name (it’s bad enough that it’s there at all).  Seeing Jane Austen, Isaac Asimov, and Charles Dickens show up helps ease the pain of seeing Nora Roberts and Patterson. It’s kind of a mixed bag of a list, really, with some classic authors who are well respected, some authors who will be all but forgotten in 100 years, and a couple (already named) who have no business on this list even today.

New Henry James Stamp

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On July 31, author Henry James became the 31st addition to what has turned into my all-time favorite United States postage series, the Literary Arts series.  The Henry James stamp is not denominated, instead showing the words “Three Ounce” where the price of the stamp is normally displayed.  Like the popular Forever stamps, Henry James stamps purchased at todays 89 cents rate will “forever” be good to mail items of three ounces or less.

I was a stamp collector years and years ago and have never been seriously tempted back into the hobby, but every time I see a new stamp added to this series it makes me want to put together the whole set.  The series includes beautiful stamps dedicated to the work of  John Steinbeck, O.Henry, Mark Twain, Richard Wright, Longfellow, Katherine Anne Porter, Robert Penn Warren, James Baldwin, Thomas Wolfe, Arn Rand, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, F. Scott Fitzgerald, among others.

If you would like to purchases some of the Henry Jamesstamps (and possibly others in the series), click here to go directly to a USPS page that will get you started.

New Nonfiction Book Coming from Pat Conroy in October

Pat Conroy

I have a huge smile on my face right now and I’m fidgeting in my chair.  And it’s all because I just stumbled upon some very unexpected news:

Pat Conroy, who died of pancreatic cancer this past March 4, will continue to speak to his readers and fans for a little while longer.

According to publisher Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, a new nonfiction book is coming October 25, on what would have been the eve of Pat’s 71st birthday.

The book will include letters, interviews and magazine articles, the release said. There will be tributes from Conroy’s friends and an introduction by Conroy’s widow, novelist Cassandra King.
The selections include Conroy’s thoughts on his favorite reads, exercise and the loss of friends.
Before he died in March, Conroy had also submitted fewer than 200 pages of a new novel, “Storms of Aquarius,” the release said. The book is about four friends coming of age during the Vietnam War.

And there’s more good news involving a new Pat Conroy Literary Festival, the first of which will be held in Beaufort, South Carolina, from October 20 to 23.  (The only thing I find odd about the timing of the festival is that it ends two days before the new book is to be published…and that seems a little counterproductive and frustrating to attendees.)

Please do click on this link because it includes links to a whole lot more new information (and tribute information) involving Mr. Conroy.  The man was especially beloved in his home state of South Carolina, of course, but he had admirers around the world and this news is going to be greeted with joy everywhere it is heard.

600 Self-Deluded Writers Sign Open Letter Condemning a Political Candidate

One of the 600 Who Over Estimates the Power of His Opinion

According to this piece from The Guardian, some 600 American writers have signed an open letter condemning the political aspirations of Donald Trump.  Among them seem to be a few favorites of mine and a whole lot more of whom I’ve never heard.


But for all 600 of you, here is my open letter to you:

As I desperately look for reasons I can justify voting for either of the two most despicable candidates in recent American political history, I don’t want (or need) to hear from people whose opinion is no more valid or informed than my own.  I don’t give a damn what you think about politics, so keep it to yourself – and if you think your opinion is going to make me vote one way or another in any election, you are hugely over estimating your influence on the general public.  Keep writing, and I’ll keep reading.  Other than that…you are irrelevant.  

Especially you, Stephen King.

Ruth Rendell: "And now, now it’s all over."

I finished up Ruth Rendell’s final novel, Dark Corners, in near darkness this morning as another major thunderstorm cell sat over me.  We lost power (for the third time in four days as the area continues to battle major flooding) about ten this morning, so I settled in near the window offering the most light to read the final 25 pages of the book.

I was pleased to see that the final sentence of the crime novel is this one: “And now, now it’s all over.”

That sentence fits the main character’s final decision perfectly, but it also reminds readers that there will never be another new book from the brilliant Ruth Rendell…because now it really is all over for her and for her fans.

Of course, the sentence could have been added by a clever editor at the publishing house.  But if that is the case, I really don’t want to know.  I would much prefer to believe that it’s Ruth’s way of capping her own career.  Call it serendipity or call it premonition, it really doesn’t matter.  

I will miss Ruth Rendell. 


A Pat Conroy Tribute

I guess I’m still finding it hard to believe that there will be no more epic novels from the wonderful Pat Conroy, but this compilation of clips from movies adapted from his books makes me realize just what a cultural impact the man’s writing had.  He leaves one hell of a legacy behind…all any artist can ask for, really.

This makes me want to spend the afternoon and evening re-watching each of these.

James Patterson: The Walmart of Writers

I don’t know what to think about James Patterson sometimes.  I know, on the one hand, that he does things like give money to benefit school libraries, and that he is an advocate of childhood literacy programs.  But there is something about the guy that rubs me the wrong way: he dominates the bestseller lists by farming out his name to lesser-known writers to such a degree that hundreds of better books never find a place on the lists – and they never stood a chance to do so.

It’s one thing to be so successful that every book published becomes a bestseller, and several authors do produce one or two titles per year that become bestsellers almost like clockwork.  But it is an other thing entirely to crudely slap your name as co-author on a book written by another writer just because you can.  To his credit, Patterson does come up with the general plots; he just doesn’t want to take the time to turn those plots into…you know…actual books.

Just look at the numbers from this Independent article, for instance: 300 million books sold, first person to sell 1 million e-books, and 10 or 11 new (almost always co-authored) books a year guaranteed to dominate every bestseller list on the planet (his last 19 straight have made the lists).  The man may as well be printing money as publishing books because the impression left is that he’s not overly concerned about the quality of what he slaps his name upon.  

But, it appears that even all of this is not enough for Mr. Patterson.  No, now he’s come up with something he calls BookShots through which he will publish up to 4 short books per month, all aimed at people who don’t consider themselves to be readers.  The books are all expected to be about 150 pages long, and with the exception of a few romance titles, they will all be written by Patterson (alone or with someone from the writer collection he keeps by his side).  And, I assume, many of them will be taking up even more of the few bestseller slots Patterson has been allowing everyone else to share up to now.

James Patterson has become to writers what Walmart is to small town main streets – and that’s a compliment neither to Walmart nor to Patterson.


Pat Conroy Dead at 70

Word comes out of South Carolina tonight that beloved author Pat Conroy is dead. It was only on February 15 that Pat went public with the news that he was suffering from pancreatic cancer, so this has to be a huge shock to his fans all around the world.  It is hard to believe that this wonderful literary voice has been silenced forever.

Rest in peace, Pat.  We will miss you.